The controversy over the Food security ordinance notwithstanding, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) seems comfortably placed on the cusp of the monsoon session of Parliament, to be held from August 5 to 30, with a slew of important legislation waiting to be cleared.
While in the Lok Sabha the Congress has a sizeable number, in the Rajya Sabha, where it usually is on shaky ground, the UPA now looks comfortably set. It is likely to bag the support of 135 members, while the Opposition would be outnumbered with its 100. This would be the scenario, should the Samajwadi Party continue to support the UPA. Besides, the alliance has a new source of support.
The Janata Dal (United), which recently broke ranks with the National Democratic Alliance, on Monday publicly committed itself to supporting the government. Its nine members in the Upper House, would shift allegiance and support the UPA. The important pieces of legislation to be discussed in the session include the food security ordinance, insurance Bill, companies Bill, pension fund regulatory and development authority Bill, land acquisition Bill, Lok Pal Bill and banking law Bill. The food security ordinance is the most important.
While the main Opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has questioned the UPA’s decision to issue an Ordinance on food security, it also wants to make amendments before the Bill can be passed in Parliament.
The BJP doesn’t want to be seen opposing the crucial Bill. The BJP leaders are likely to help the Union government pass the Bills other than the food security ordinance, unless the government accepts the recommendations by the Yashwant Sinha-headed standing committee on finance.
“The food security Bill is just one issue but the government would have to explain a lot on price rise, corruption, misuse of the Central Bureau of Investigation, state of the economy and devaluation of the rupee,” said a senior BJP leader.
Senior Congress leaders concede the UPA could be safe in terms of numbers but it does not solve the problem totally. “Even if we have the numbers, these are important bills. We can’t pass them without a discussion. They need to be debated and discussed and cannot be passed in the din. Only when the Opposition agrees to let the house function and have a discussion, can the bills be passed.”